The Constitution clearly states that the government, particularly Congress, should “provide for the common defense.” The nation’s founders would have violently disagreed with then-President George W. Bush’s slogan that the “best defense is a good offense.” At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the founders, based on bad experiences with 18th-century European monarchs, were most skittish about a strong executive using a standing army to involve the country in foreign wars of intrigue; they knew that the cost of those wars, both in blood and treasure, fell to the common citizen.
(Last year, President Barack Obama’s Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Michael Mullen, said many of the austerity cuts would fall on soldiers’ pay and benefits rather than slashing weapons programs and force levels, which he called the “relatively easy” thing to do.)
Give him credit. He stood on the Nobel podium and gave a speech that, read today, looks remarkably like a rousing defense of American-style war and little short of an attack on the limited ability of nonviolence to make a real difference in a violent world. Among other things, he made clear that he wouldn’t be bound in any way by the examples of Gandhi or King, trumpeted his willingness to act “unilaterally,” and plunked for the necessity of war. …
…Obama did not take that path, of course, and now, his Nobel Prize largely forgotten, he will be campaigning for reelection as a successful war president, the man who launched the attack that killed Osama bin Laden, and whose administration has fed the U.S. military machine in a manner similar to that of his predecessor. At the same time, it has fiercely prosecuted and, in the case of Private First Class Bradley Manning among others, persecuted a range of American whistleblowers who have dared to reveal the real story of our eternal state of war and the war state that goes with it.